Sir Ed Davey accuses Treasury of 'attacking self-employed people'

3 March 2021, 09:13 | Updated: 3 March 2021, 09:21

By Fiona Jones

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey accused the Government of "attacking the self-employed" ahead of today's Budget, citing the ongoing loan charge row and their exclusion from financial support during the pandemic.

"The Treasury and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs seem to be hitting the self-employed contractors and small business owners hard all the time," Sir Ed said, ahead of the Chancellor's key Spring Budget speech.

Sir Ed said: "There's the loan charge, there's the changes to IR35 which hits contractors, and frankly it's the way they've treated so many self-employed people during this pandemic, excluding about three million self-employed and small business from any help whatsoever."

"In other words, the Treasury and HMRC are serial offenders attacking self-employed people who are just working and trying to do their best, it's not acceptable."

Sir Ed Davey said the Government "haven't listened" to protestations over the ongoing loan charge row.

Read more: Budget 2021: No help for the excluded will come like 'dagger to the heart', Tory voter says

The loan charge is a Government measure which is designed to claw back unpaid taxes from people who HMRC says used "disguised remuneration" tax avoidance schemes.

Under these schemes, self-employed contractors were paid using loans rather than salaries - this meant they sidestepped income tax and national insurance arrangements.

Sir Ed praised former Tory leader and Tory MP David Davis for voicing their disapproval and working with the All-Party Parliamentary Loan Charge Group to "try and get the Government to listen" about the potential debilitating effects of retrospective taxes.

Mel Stride, who opposed the APPG's message, is now chair of the Treasury Select Committee and he "won't look in to it," said the Lib Dem leader, which he branded "dreadful."

"There are too many examples of recent ministers going from Secretary of State or a junior minister and then chairing a Treasury Select Committee," he said, citing Jeremy Hunt who now chairs the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

"I think Parliament needs to look at how it organises themselves."